Themed therapy is a fun and efficient way to plan for engaging sessions while also targeting a variety of goals. While our caseloads are full of many different goals, they also entail a variety of ages and abilities. When planning your speech therapy themes, it’s important to find themes that are easy to adapt to both younger and older students. This saves time planning and keeps your brain organized to teach topics across grades. You can easily pull activities out that can be re-used for different grades and skills.
Pro Tip? Use a theme longer than a week! Plan themes for 2-4 weeks with lessons for everyone. Learn more about this by listening to this podcast episode.
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Want to learn more ways you can use a theme-based approach to plan for your speech therapy caseload? Take the Themed Therapy SLP quiz to learn what area you want more tips, tricks and ways to rock at using themes in speech therapy.
Top Tips for Using Speech Therapy Themes Across Your Caseload
Themed therapy allows us to streamline our planning! Pick a theme and modify it across grade and skill levels. This is a game changer for SLPs and saves us a lot of time in our busy schedules!
When choosing themes across your caseload, think about what’s interesting for younger and older students. What is going to keep them interested and motivated to keep participating? Consider what’s relevant to them both inside the classroom (curriculum) and outside the classroom (events, hobbies, preferred topics, and more).
When you’ve chosen your theme, make activities open-ended. This will give you some wiggle room to target all the different goals in your caseload and maybe even different ages! Don’t forget, too, it’s ok to reuse materials! Across groups and across ages, use the same materials as long as they’re relevant and appropriate.
Need some more inspiration for using and choosing themes across your caseload? Check out this post.
Speech Therapy Themes for Younger and Older Students
Food is something that brings people all over the world together, so it’s the perfect theme for all your students. For younger students, a food theme may involve sorting food into groups, describing different foods, and using pretend play food while targeting speech and language goals. Read my post about ways to use play food in speech therapy. Or, you can actually use real food with Live Love Speech’s visual cooking recipes.
Older students may work following directions in a recipe, re-telling the steps and ingredients to make something, and/or learning about different cultural foods. Check out this post on ways to use real cooking activities in speech therapy. Food also has a lot of ways to address social language skills like how to order at a restaurant and great conversation starters (What’s your favorite kind of food? Do you like to cook?)
How to Adapt a Transportation Theme
One of the first things my students go to in my room? My toy cars and racetrack. Later on in the day, I’ll work with older students who (probably) know more about cars than I do. Transportation is another theme that seems to be relevant and motivating to all of our students. For younger students, you can work on sorting different methods of transportation. Read all about one of my favorite sorting activities here.
Transportation also has natural ways to work on positional terms, action words, and more! Check out my transportation push in lesson plans for some more inspo!
For older students, you can plan 1 lesson for each method of transportation. (This is an easy way to use one theme for a few weeks!) One week you can learn how airplanes fly, then make paper airplanes. Another week, students can talk about cars and learning to drive- what’s their favorite kind? What are some important rules to follow when driving? Use Wonderopolis and Newsela to find some articles about transportation for your older students.
Fun Ways to use a Camping Theme with Younger and Older Students
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Camping has become such a fun theme to use with my students. This is a fun theme to use dramatic play for, and there’s great songs like We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and books like Camping Spree with Mr. Magee. I also have some fun language-based push in plans for camping.
For older students, have them plan a camping trip! What will they need? Who will bring what? Can they explain how to set up a tent? This is also a great conversation starter-who has been camping? Where did they go? How did they like it?
For books, and more speech therapy ideas, check out this camping-themed blog post.
You can find a lot of camping-themed activities in my Themed Therapy SLP Membership.
Use the Weather Seasons for Older and Younger Students
For the longest time, seasons were my go-to themes. They are jam packed with vocabulary, exciting topics and plenty of conversation starters. Not to mention, there are so many ready-to-use materials on Teachers Pay Teachers.
With younger students, I love to do seasonal activities with sensory bins and vocabulary cards. I’ll use filling material that represents something to do with the season (cotton balls for snow, fake leaves for fall, etc) and hide vocabulary cards or mini objects to target vocabulary. This also allows for practice with speech sounds and grammar targets, too. Here is a low prep activity idea from my store.
Older students can learn about seasons in different parts of the world! Students can research seasons across the world and then share with the group while practicing comprehension and re-tell skills. Don’t forget about idioms, too. There are so many idioms that will help you break the ice with your students and put a spring in their step. Some other seasonal idioms include: Head in the clouds, soak up the sun, it’s raining cats and dogs, a bad apple, apple of someone’s eye, tip of the iceberg, under the weather.
For more ideas by season, check out some of my previous blog posts and materials.
What Monthly Speech Therapy Themes do You Use for Younger and Older Students?
Themed planning is a fun an efficient way to plan for your students- no matter how old they are and no matter what they’re working on. Streamline your planning by choosing themes you can use across your caseload. What theme do you find to be a hit with all of your students? Share your themed therapy with us on social media!